So, my last post that I had here, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…was about my trip to Iceland in March of 2016 where I hitchhiked the Ring Road. The last post was only a summary of day one and I was there for 11 days, that meant I had set myself up to write another 10 posts summarizing the rest of the trip; that’s a lot.
Believe me, I have no problem writing about the trip, in fact I love it. It’s been about 16 months since it happened, and it’s still fresh in my mind. But, as someone who was balancing two jobs working about 70 hours a week to pay for the next trip, time was not a luxury I had. Simply put, it wasn’t feasible for me to write that much, or even be able to. So, like many things, it got put on the back burner and never made it to fruition.
Now why did that happen, here’s why. The last 6-8 months or so have been pretty much a shit show to say the least. As some of you who know me personally, I was supposed to be headed out to Colorado the first of October for the winter to ski, followed by a road trip around the western US, Canada, and up to Alaska in a Volkswagen Vanagon that I got. #VanLife
So, October comes around and the Van needs more work than I planned on. Start really working on the van only to find out it has a blown head gasket and I need to rebuild the motor as well as a number of other things. Over the next couple months, me and my uncle fix up the van, more so him teaching me how to go about fixing it and giving me the knowledge to do so. (Thanks again for all the help and teaching.) That took more time and money than expected, so there’s the first big setback that I had.
At the time, I’d only been working my one job at a motorcycle shop since I was under the assumption I’d be leaving soon anyways. Well, once the van needed to be fixed back up, I knew I needed to get that second job to recuperate some of the losses, so that’s what I did. Started working two jobs again around mid-November and everything was going well for about a month or so. Mid-December rolls around and we get notified that the motorcycle shop is closing down. It wasn’t too bad since we were getting a severance package. Couple weeks go by though and I get sent home thanks to being screwed over by my team lead. There goes the severance package and three weeks of pay and there you have setback number two.
At this point I realized that Colorado was most likely not going to happen and for the second time I would postpone my road trip. Started debating what I wanted to do next and decided on hiking the PCT. It was something I had talked about doing before and seemed like a good idea. Got all my gear together, had all my transportation set up, I was good to go just waiting to get my hiking permit once they opened on January 24th and 35 permits per day became available. But, on January 19th I tweaked my back at work. Didn’t think it was too bad, maybe a strained back or something so took it easy over the weekend. Well, it hadn’t gotten better and I was having shooting nerve pain in my left leg and I knew something was up. Went to see a doctor on Monday and she thought it might be just a back strain, so she prescribed some oral steroids, I on the other hand was not too confident in her diagnosis.
Tuesday rolls around and it’s time to get PCT permits. Go to fill out my application for the first or second week of April, arguably the best time to go if headed northbound, but the site was overloaded and for about an hour and a half I sat there trying to put in my application, but nobodies would go through. Well, I had to leave the house for about an hour, and immediately once I got home, I scrambled to my computer to try again. Open up the site, and SHIT, all the days in April are taken, the whole first week of May is taken as well as the last week of March. I didn’t want to start too early as it was looking to be a high snow year in the Sierra Nevadas, so I put in my application for May 10th as I figured I’d be more than able to quicken my pace in order to not be stuck in Washington once the snow started. Still had it in my mind that my back would be healed and I’d be ready to go.
Week goes on and I take the steroids for the week but they didn’t help a bit, the pain was still progressively getting worse. Saw the doctor again that Monday and she still thinks it’s nothing major, but prescribes two weeks of Physical Therapy to see if that helps. I’m sitting there thinking why not an MRI scan, but I go along with the PT order. The next couple weeks go past and nothing is getting any better. The doctor then decides that she’s not too sure what’s wrong so she refers me to a pain management doctor and that doctor orders an MRI scan, finally someone who doesn’t waste time. A week goes by and see the doctor again with my MRI results and found out I have two herniated discs in my lower back; not good. This is the point I realized the PCT is not going to happen either. On April 17th I had a microdisectomy spinal surgery to repair the herniated discs and for the last three months I’ve basically just been recovering from that trying to get back to 100% so I can finally go on another trip. And that was my biggest setback.
I don’t write any of this looking for sympathy or anything. It is simply a fact of my life and the root causes as to why I haven’t been active here, nor really anywhere else for that matter. I’ll have to quote Paulo Coelho again as he has a couple quotes that speak volumes to exactly what I’m going through. “There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.” “Life has a way of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all, or by having everything happen at once.” And it’s absolutely true. I’m not frustrated, angry, sad, or resentful to anything that has set me back, if anything, I’m most likely grateful. It gave me lots of time to think about things, ponder what I really want, and the fact is, is that a lot of people would have had this happen to them and just give up thinking that it wasn’t meant to be. In my eyes, going through this, and realizing that I still want to do all this stuff really solidifies it in my mind and is almost inspiring. By no means am I saying this is the worst thing in the world, it’s not. There are millions of people out there doing way worse than me, both physically and mentally, and I understand that very well.
What’s next? The tentative plan, assuming I continue to get back to 100%, is to take a two-month trip overseas to hike some places I’ve wanted to go for a while and from there start taking trips more frequently. Should be going to Iceland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt, India, Nepal, and possibly Australia as well. That’s at least the plan. The site should also be getting updated more often as well as making a final summary of hitchhiking Iceland in a post in the next day or so. If you’ve taken the time to read this, thank you, it means a lot. J